Museums in France are counting on tighter purse strings and future investment to cope with soaring energy costs, rather than ticket price hikes or partial closures, AFP reports.
Many major cultural, artistic and historic centers in Paris will rely on energy savings, as well as state support, to cope with rising electricity and gas prices, fueled by the war in Ukraine.
The energy costs of the Orangerie and Orsay museums in the French capital have tripled, says general administrator Pierre-Emmanuel Lecerf.
In 2022, they represent 5% of the operating budget of the pairs, or around 27 million euros. However, this figure is expected to increase to 12% by 2023.
“At this point, we don’t want to close museums or raise prices. It’s up to us to adapt,” Lecerf said, warning that closures could be unavoidable in the event of a “break in energy supply”.
He added that “discussions” were underway with the country’s culture ministry, with an “update” on the situation expected before the end of the month.
Without announcing exact figures for this year, the Louvre previously announced that it would reduce its energy consumption by 17% compared to 2018 in 2021. That year, its electricity expenditure was approximately 10 million euros. euros, out of a total operating budget of 216 million.
For its part, the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF) recently issued recommendations aimed at reducing energy consumption in cinemas, without commenting on the advisability of reducing the number of screenings.
Museums across France have pushed to modernize their infrastructure in recent years, targeting heat, cold and light.
Earlier this year, Orsay and the Orangerie launched a “significant anti-waste environmental policy”, which aimed to reduce gas and electricity costs by 15% in the first eight months of the year compared to 2019.
“Centralized technical management already makes it possible to adjust lighting and temperatures to exact needs almost to the second,” Lecerf said, adding that both museums are implementing LED lighting, which should reduce a further 5% their energy. bills.
He also hinted that turning down the thermostat could be “another” penny-pinching measure, but acknowledged there must be “consensus” around minimum levels.
Conservation concerns complicate the picture, as works of art and ancient objects on display in museums require stable temperatures and dryness levels to ensure their longevity.
Another way to deal with soaring energy costs — more expensive but potentially more cost-effective in the long run — is to modify the buildings themselves, according to Lecerf.
He said there was the possibility of restoring, or even replacing, the canopies at Orsay with “thermal screens in winter and greenhouses in summer”.
An audit estimated the cost of replacing the iconic glass roof at the entrance to the museum at seven million euros.
To close or not to close?
Cinemas, already hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic, are struggling to cope with skyrocketing energy bills.
The National Federation of French Cinemas indicates that the energy required to operate a viewing room greatly exceeds 3% of turnover and 10% in the oldest rooms.
She invited the 6,193 French cinemas to turn off their signs outside opening hours, to lower the heating to 19°C, to reduce the air conditioning and even to adapt the opening hours “according to the flow of audience”.
The industry is currently divided on whether to reduce the number of screenings, reports AFP.
Cinemas are also pinning their hopes on new projectors, which use four times less energy but require massive investments to buy them and replace them with their existing equipment.
French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak promised to help “build a replacement plan”, without offering a specific amount of support or a timetable.